My normal ritual on Tuesdays is to start preparing for the races by about 2 PM. The Missus gets home just before 5 PM and the goal is to have my dad and Junior in the packed car, idling, waiting for her.
This has not happened yet.
My race prep actually starts a bit earlier than that, with shifting tasks earlier to free up the time from 2 PM on. So, as expected, at 2 PM, Junior was upstairs napping, and I had my dad at the table. It's been a difficult last few days, with a minor leak with the toilet (due to my dad's uncontrolled descent onto the thing, slamming into the tank with his back). So with all the stuff that's happened in the last few days things seemed to be going well.
Normally my dad takes a minute to get going so I checked the weather. It was supposed to be partly cloudy, virtually no chance of rain, and in the mid-upper 80s by race time.
The first hint of the derailment was that my dad didn't start to eat for 90 minutes. I tried all sorts of stuff but he'd either not open his mouth or he would just hold the food in his mouth. It's food that he eats regularly so it wasn't like I was feeding him something yucky. He finally started to swallow food but now I was starting to have some schedule anxiety. Junior would be up shortly and then my race prep efficiency would drop pretty dramatically.
Then it started pouring.
I refreshed the weather site and now it said thunder and lightning for the next little bit, clearing up by 4:00 PM or so. The cloud cover seemed to be over us at that moment but moving out of the area.
When I checked the hourly at the race venue it said no rain, but then it said that here also.
With race time at 6 PM I hoped that the course would be dry.
Junior did get up but then played quietly on his own, allowing me to gather my race stuff. I'd need to get the bike, SRM, and shoes from the basement. Helmet, cam, gloves, and heart rate strap from the "stuff to bring to the race" spot upstairs. I needed to pack the cooler with bottles of ice water, a couple sandwiches for Junior. Then from the garage the folding chairs for the non-racers, my race wheels, and the first aid kit.
I got the upstairs stuff out to the car fine, plus the chairs. I decided to get the bike on the roof because that's part of the stuff I can do outside. I prefer to put the cooler and the race wheels in the car last because it's usually so hot outside and I don't want the race wheels baking in a 180 degree car oven.
I went to go downstairs but got distracted by one of our cats rubbing his butt on the floor, something unusual. He left a trail of poo and so I cleaned that up, washed my hands, all that kind of stuff.
I sensed the time slipping away.
I trotted downstairs to get my bike. The bike room is off limits to the cats so the door is always closed. I opened the door and actually swore out loud.
The "slightly leaking tank" upstairs had translated into water coming through the ceiling and into the bike room.
I grabbed my shoes, literally being dripped on from the (finished) ceiling, and ran upstairs. I ran around a bit, got an empty litter box bucket (we buy in buckets, not jugs), and put it under the water coming through the ceiling.
I tried to shut off the supply line. Although it slowed it didn't stop. I removed the flapper so that the water wouldn't build up in the tank. I mopped up the floor as best I could. And I directed a fan onto the floor to increase evaporation rates (and kept the AC cranked to keep the air dry). I put my shoes on the floor in front of the fan, to dry them off.
Time was bleeding pretty quickly now.
After some quick mental calculation, some time-money-life balance factors, I decided that I'd still prepare to go to the race. If in the next hour the water was pouring into the basement then I'd skip the race, but I really wanted to race and I thought that any damage would be limited to whatever already got damaged.
I spent some time picking up the cluttered bike room floor. Got my bike out of there and onto the roof of the car (getting the bike outside involves two staircases, two 180s, a number of 90 deg turns, and a lot of scuff marks on the walls). Pumped up the race wheels but left them in the cool garage. Bike locked, rear wheel strapped down, I went back inside.
I started assembling the cooler. I was putting water in the bottles at the sink when I looked outside.
It was pouring.
I thought for a moment about the bike on the roof. Then the car. Did I open the windows like I normally do? Was the garage door open? I carefully thought.
I did not open the car windows. I closed the garage door.
I kept filling the bottles.
I got Junior dressed, shoes on, everything. Cooler was assembled. Dad dressed. I can't remember what I was doing when the Missus came home but she came in and one of the first things she asked me was where I had my shoes. She's taken inventory of the car in the driveway and noticed that the shoes weren't in the car.
Doh! They were in front of the fan in my dad's bathroom!
I went and checked. Shoes were dry. Floor was damp but not puddled. Went and checked basement. Okay. Very little water in the bucket, no more water coming off the ceiling.
It was race time!
We headed out a little after 5. I was already pretty frazzled but the drive to the race was pretty calming, and we got there with a bit of time to spare.
Waving to Junior while doing a warm up lap.
The wind was just howling when we got there, the sky blue with white clouds everywhere. As far as I could tell the downpours at home hadn't been here.
I decided to use the Stinger 4 front wheel, the 45 mm tall wheel, instead of the Stinger 7 / 75 mm wheel. I figured that would be better for the wind. We'd gotten there early enough that I could do a lap or two, and the Stinger 4 felt stable even in a strong crosswind.
Start of the race.
A decent number of people showed up for this week, the last one of the season. For me this would be my last race of the season, period. With no more venues this close to the house I really can't think about doing any of the upcoming races.
Gaps opening up by the end of the first lap.
The racing started pretty quickly, with a move causing a gap to open within the first lap of the race. I struggled to get going; I hoped this wasn't a sign of things to come.
Wind from the left.
The wind really hit us from the left on after Turn 3, on the final stretch. This meant sheltering to the right. The final stretch curves left but the wind was such that even at the start/finish you really wanted to be seeking shelter to the right. This meant rolling up near the curb each lap, something that can get tricky if everyone is looking to shelter there. At the same time it's sort of fun, to be fighting for wheels on the curb, I felt sort like it was actually bike racing, not just riding my bike.
At some point in the race there was a crash after Turn 1. The race got neutralized as they got everyone off the ground. I stopped to offer the first aid kit but it seemed that everyone was okay without it. One rider went to the hospital, a Junior. Hopefully he's okay.
Race back on.
After a number of neutral laps, where everyone really did go neutral, the race was back on.
I found myself withering out there. The heat, the relentless attacks, I was absolutely at the limit. I remember one time sitting on wheels near the front when someone attacked. Everyone responded except me. I couldn't get out of the saddle, I couldn't spin.
Gapped off temporarily.
Finally someone rolled by me, I clawed my way onto their wheel, and we got back on. A short time later, maybe within a lap or so, there was even a bigger move.
An even bigger attack.
This time I couldn't go at all. I watched them ride away from me. A teammate warming up for the A race rolled by, yelling encouragement.
I hoped that the field would ease a bit but I figured that my chances of catching back on were minimal at best. I started to roll near the start/finish. Then I noticed the field soft pedaling. They had not just eased up, it looked like they had just stopped racing. It was like...
That was the sprint.
The race was over.
I don't know the last time I was so cooked that I didn't realize it was the end of the race. In reviewing the clip I could see and hear the bell but when I was actually racing nothing registered.
After the race.
I rolled around to the start/finish again and spotted Junior. He was trying to find a garbage can so I helped him with that. Then we headed over to base camp, where the Missus and Pops were hanging out.
Junior and the bike.
We had to get going, with the water situation uncertain at home. So after a brief rest, where I recovered a bit and watched in amazement as the As raced around at warp speed, we headed out.
At home I was zonked. Luckily the water was better - the basement was basically dry. We've since installed a new toilet (the next morning) and nothing, touch wood, is leaking.
For now, though, that's my 2016 racing season. I've done, what, like 8 races, all of them Tuesday Night Worlds. I started feeling a bit better towards the end, the sufferfest above notwithstanding.
I'm also already thinking about what's up next for me for racing, next season.
- Lose some weight. I've been hovering at around 170-175 lbs most of the season. Being 160 lbs makes a huge difference. 155 lbs would be insane. 150 lbs is a dream.
- Get the rocking trainer better. It's already helped a lot but I have ideas on making it better.
- Do some outdoor sprints. Rocking trainer or not, I need to be able to do 100% jumps without worrying about slipping the tire or something. Even if it means sprinting up and down my street I think it's something I need to do a little more often than "never".
- VO2 max intervals. They really helped in 2015. This year I did 6 total days of intervals, 3 weeks worth.
- Get my SRM spiders working. Not having power is a bit frustrating because I have no idea if I'm actually stronger or not.
And, of course, clean up the bike room.